Archive for the ‘ ~3 to 5 Miles~ ’ Category

King Preserve – North Kingstown

  • King/Benson Preserve
  • Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’56.02″N, 71°25’23.72″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 25, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

Named for Dave King, the first executive director of the Champlin Foundations, this is Rhode Islands newest Nature Conservancy property that now has trails open to the public. It is so new in fact that the trails in the Benson Preserve property are still under development. The property is just north of Casey Farm and stretches from Boston Neck Road westward to the Narrow River. The blue trail from the main parking area meanders westerly into the property, passing stone walls and small boulders, for about a mile before coming to the yellow trails. Turn left at the yellow trail and follow it to its end. Along the way look for a rather unusual rock on the right that seems to point. You will pass a yellow trail to the right as well. You will return on this trail. At the end of the yellow trail you will come to a four way intersection. The yellow loop trail is to your immediate right and a trail spurs to the left to Casey Farm. Ahead and to the right is the white blazed Pettaquamscutt Trail. Follow this trail to two of the preserve features. The first on the left is a small beach that overlooks Narrow River. This is an old Girl Scout Camp beach. Back on the white trail you will soon find yourself walking through a canopy of tall spruce trees. Here we spotted a fox. The white blazed trail then turns to the right and comes to a set of trickling waterfalls. Continuing along the trail you soon cross onto the Benson Preserve. There is signage indicating that the trails are still being developed. From here you can retrace your steps or forge ahead follow the un-blazed trails. If you choose the later be sure to use some sort of GPS in case you need to backtrack and be very aware of your footing. The white trail is blazed for a few more hundred feet. Soon you will see a trail to the right. It is currently marked with pink survey flagging. Following this flagging (soon to be blazed white) and carefully following the currently less defined trail you will come to a wood footbridge at a stream crossing. A few feet after that you will turn left onto the blazed yellow trail. Follow this trail to its end turning left again onto the main yellow trail. From here retrace your steps back to the parking area following the yellow then blue trails. Hunting is allowed on this preserve, be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

A note about the bordering Casey Farm property: Casey Farm is open to the public during daylight hours for hiking trails at Casey Point or those adjacent to King Preserve. Please note dogs must be on leashes, clean up of course, and respect the young people and farm animals by keeping dogs away from the farmyard and fields. Access Casey’s woodland trails via the King Preserve. Camp Grosvenor is not open to the public for hiking. Access Casey Point on Narragansett Bay via the gate on Boston Neck Road. We are working on getting better signage. Feel free to contact me with any questions: Jane Hennedy, site manager, 401-295-1030 ext. 5, jhennedy@historicnewengland.org.

 

Trail maps can be found at: King Preserve

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Spruce Grove

Browning Woods Farm – South Kingstown

  • Browning Woods Farm
  • Shannock Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°24’47.16″N, 71°36’22.06″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 30, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

At the extreme western edge of South Kingstown lies Browning Woods Farm. This property, owned by the South Kingstown Land Trust, was part of the original Pettaquamscutt Purchase of 1657 and belonged to the Browning Family as far back as the early 1700’s. The farm was used mostly to raise animals such as sheep, cattle, and pigs. Today there is a two mile loop and a half mile access trail that winds through the property. There is quite an elevation change on the property but it is so gradual that it is almost unnoticed. The trail passes several stone walls and the Browning Homestead where there is an impressive cellar hole. There are several side trails and old woods roads that spur off the blue blazed loop trail. Be sure to stay on the well marked blue blazed trail. Along with maples and pines there are also holly trees and winterberry. Chipmunks and squirrels can be seen here as well as a variety of songbirds. This is a great hike for someone who is just getting started with local hiking as the trail is easy to follow and mostly flat.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Browning Woods Farm

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Stone Walls And Boardwalks

Sprague Hill – Glocester

  • Sprague Hill
  • Putnam Pike, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°55’15.19″N, 71°44’17.69″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 28, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.7 miles
  • Moderate, areas can be difficult due to weather.

 

This three and a half mile hike explores the lesser traveled paths of two well known hiking destinations and a connecting road between them that crosses over Sprague Hill. Starting at a parking area along Putnam Pike for the Durfee Hill Management Area follow the dirt road beyond the gate. The road winds south before first coming to an area on the left with a small waterfall and some old stone work along Brandy Brook. Continuing ahead the road turns to the right. The trail to the left you will return on. At the next split the follow the road to the left and it will come to Burlingame Reservoir. There are some blazes and marks in this area presumably used by cyclists, ignore them for this hike. Next you will cross the earthen dam of the reservoir. The view of is quite nice here. The next part of this hike can be quite difficult after some rain. The unmarked but relatively defined trail turns away from the reservoir. It is a very rocky trail and after some rain can be quite wet and somewhat flooded. Take your time here and be sure to follow the trail. It soon comes to an intersection. Take a good look around and familiarize yourself with the intersection. You will be returning to this point but following a different trail out. At this point turn right and follow the trail to the southwest. This trail is actually Elbow Rock Road and it is fairly narrow, channeled in areas, and travels gradually up Sprague Hill for about a half mile. Much like the previous trail, it is quite rocky and areas and will be wet, almost stream like, after significant precipitation. The trail is also flanked by areas of mountain laurel and hemlocks. Do note that there are “No Trespassing” signs on each side of the trail after you leave the Durfee Hill Management Area. The trail itself lies within a public right of way. Be sure to stay on this trail ignoring other trails that spur off in either direction until you reach the top of the hill at a four way trail intersection with a parking area. The trail to the left is actually the end of Sprague Hill Road and the lesser known small parking area is public parking for Sprague Farm. For this hike continue straight and follow the dirt road slightly downhill. You may notice white dot blazes here. This is part of the Sprague Farm trail network. Soon on the right you will find a narrow unmarked trail that crosses over a large section of outcrop. Turn here and follow the trail that climbs the hill. This is Elbow Rock. There are no sweeping views here but be aware of the edges. The rock is rather large and looms high above the surrounding forest. From here follow the trail over the rock and to the left back down to Elbow Rock Road. Turn left and retrace your steps back up and over Sprague Hill a little over a mile to the intersection that you had familiarized yourself with. From here follow the trail mostly straight, along the main trail, as it winds to the pond. There is a large field to the right if you choose to explore it. Next the trail comes to another earthen dam and a smaller pond on the left. After heavy rains this is also a challenge as an area of the dam is slightly compromised and water flows over it into Brandy Brook. Next there is a small bridge that crosses a stonework channel. Turn right and retrace your steps back to the parking area. Hunting is allowed in these areas, be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Sprague Hill

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Burlingame Reservoir

Wakefield Pond – Burrillville/Thompson

  • Wakefield Pond
  • Wakefield Road, Burrillville, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°58’15.94″N,71°47’51.77″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 21, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Moderate due to footing and some elevation.

 

Wakefield Pond is often overlooked as it lies between some of the more predominate recreational areas. The Buck Hill Management Area to the north, the George Washington Management Area to the south, and the Quaddick State Forest to the west often overshadow this area. The pond is flanked to the west by a Boy Scout Camp and the northeast by a couple dozen homes. This hike is an out and back that follows dirt roads. Starting from the corner of Wakefield Road where it bends onto Croff Road there is a dirt road that heads to the east. Almost immediately you will come upon a historical cemetery on the left. The road then starts to descend downhill, into Thompson, to a four way intersection. Along the way there are a few trails to the left. Notice the “No Trespassing” signs, this is the land of the Boy Scouts. When you have reached to intersection turn left. This is Wakefield Pond Road and it heads south through the Quaddick State Forest for a bit before coming to more Boy Scout property. There is a long steady stretch of uphill walking here. After the top of the hill you will see a cellar hole on the right with an old shed behind it. The road then descends downhill once again and curves to the left heading back into Burrillville after crossing Blackmore Brook. In the distance to the left you will see the stonework of the stone and earthen dam that holds the water in Wakefield Pond. There is a trail to the left that leads to a wooden bridge and dam. This is private property. Continue ahead for a view of the pond. Next there is a road to the right that leads to Peck Pond. For this hike continue straight along the road. At the one and a half mile mark, just as the pond starts to turn away from the pond, there is a nice little spot with a sweeping view of the pond. From here retrace your steps back to the beginning of the hike. The roads that you follow for this hike are rather rocky, some loose in many spots. Beware of your footing.

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Fall Colors By The Pond.

Francis Carter East – Charlestown

  • Francis C. Carter Preserve – East
  • Old Mill Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°25’56.23″N, 71°40’8.20″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 8, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Moderate due to some elevation.

 

The Francis Carter Preserve is a hilly sprawling tract of land in Charlestown and is large enough to split into two separate hikes. The eastern half of the preserve offers trails that wind through a forest covered in blueberry and huckleberry shrubs, stone walls, outcrops, and boulders. There are two entrances to the preserve as well. For this hike, we (fellow hikers) choose to start at the larger parking area along Old Mill Road. From here we followed a dirt road just a few feet before turning right onto the yellow blazed trail. This trail traverses across the property from one parking lot to the other. We followed it nearly to its end before turning left onto the red trail. Along the way we passed several stone walls, climbed up and over several small hills, while passing through a forest of beech, birch, and pines. The blue blazed trail three times comes to the yellow trail as we opted to ignore it at this point. There are also cairns along the yellow trail as well as some impressive rock outcrops. At the time of this hike we also came across a split boulder that was “dressed up” as a frog. Someone has added a couple smaller stones to give the large boulder the appearance that it had eyes and a tongue. We choose to ignore the short Split Rock Trail and then turn left shortly after onto the red trail. This trail heads north first paralleling Carolina Back Road before turning back to the west. It also climbs up and over several smalls hills as it winds through the forest. Along the red trail there is a small bench to sit for a break if you choose. You will also catch a glimpse of a pond just to the north. You may also catch a glimpse or at least hear the train come through on just the other side of the pond. At the end of the red trail we turned right onto the blue trail. Soon again you will catch another glimpse of the pond below. There are a couple unmarked spur trails that lead to the pond. At the next intersection there are two blue trails. They both lead to the yellow trail, we stayed to the right at this juncture. Soon we came to yet another intersection. An unmarked connector trail the western part of the preserve appears on the right. We continued straight following the blue blazed trail to its end. Here we turned right following the yellow blazed trail back to the dirt road. Turning left would lead us back to the parking area. Take a look around the area here. You will notice a cellar hole and an old water pump. There is also a restroom here. This preserve is open to hunting so wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Francis Carter East

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Along the Yellow Trail

Casey Farm – North Kingstown

  • Casey Farm
  • Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’43.45″N, 71°25’23.07″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 24, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

Most locals know Casey Farm for its farmer markets (one of the best in the state). Others know the farm for being a historical site. What a lot of people are not aware of is that Casey Farm offers miles of trails. For this hike, I joined a small group attending a Rhode Island Land Trust Days event. The hike was led by the very knowledgeable Dr. Bob Kenney of the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Kenney, (a walking encyclopedia of birds, mushrooms, and plants) volunteers quite often for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Audubon Society. In fact this is not the first of his hikes I have been on. In 1659, several colonists bought the land on Boston Neck for a mere 18 cents per acre from the Narragansetts. One of these families were the Richardsons. By 1702 half of that property belonged to the family that founded Casey Farm. The farm stretched from Narragansett Bay to the Narrow River as it still does today. The property, a working farm, is protected and owned by Historic New England. Atop the hill along Boston Neck Road is where the farm is located. It consists of several fields and structures including a large barn as well as old New England style stone walls. The first part of the hike took us into the eastern part of the property down to Casey Point. The old cart path passes through areas of wildflowers including wild snapdragon, black swallowwort milkweed, and heart leaved aster. There is also an abundance of ferns, mushrooms, and an invasive shrub known as devils walking stick. This area is also a haven for birds as we saw and heard catbirds, woodpeckers, and red tailed hawks. When we reached the point we had sweeping views of the west passage of Narragansett Bay. Across the bay is Jamestown and the large open field is part of Watson Farm (another Historic New England property). Beyond Jamestown you will see the Newport Bridge. To the north is the Jamestown Bridge and Plum Point Lighthouse. To the south you can see Beavertail Light and Dutch Island Light. After spending a little time on the point we retraced our steps back to the farm. From here we then followed another stone walled flanked cart path toward the heavily wooded western end of the property. We briefly entered the neighboring King Preserve, the newest Nature Conservancy property in Rhode Island. This preserve is a work in progress still. Most of the major trails are complete and open, however, there are a section of trails yet to be built. The trails are soft and there are boardwalks that cross wet areas and streams. There is plenty of ferns in this area among the birch trees and sassafras. We nearly reached the Narrow River at the bottom of the hill before making our way back uphill along old cart paths and dirt roads winding through the Casey Farm property. This stretch of the hike also offer sounds and sights of nuthatches, tufted titmouses, and eastern towhees. We then returned to the farm to conclude the hike. Casey Farm is open from June 1st to October 15th on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. There are also tours of the farm available. For more information please call 401-295-1030.

 

A note from the folks at Casey Farm:  Casey Farm is open to the public during daylight hours for hiking trails at Casey Point or those adjacent to King Preserve. Please note dogs must be on leashes, clean up of course, and respect the young people and farm animals by keeping dogs away from the farmyard and fields. Access Casey’s woodland trails via the King Preserve. Camp Grosvenor is not open to the public for hiking. Access Casey Point on Narragansett Bay via the gate on Boston Neck Road. We are working on getting better signage. Feel free to contact me with any questions: Jane Hennedy, site manager, 401-295-1030 ext. 5, jhennedy@historicnewengland.org.

 

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Casey Point with The Newport Bridge in the distance.

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Flanked by Wildflowers

Hanton City – Smithfield

  • Hanton City
  • Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: September 17, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.3 miles
  • Fairly easy, slight elevation.

 

Yesteryear there existed a cluster of buildings in the woods of what is now Smithfield. This town was in an extremely remote area miles from any other towns or villages. The town was eventually abandoned and all that remains are several cellar holes, wells, and stone walls. It is known as Hanton City and there are several theories of why the town existed in the first place. Some believe that maybe the occupants were loyalists to the British throne during the American Revolution, others believe that maybe these occupants were diseased and forced to live away from the general public. Regardless, they had a small but fully functioning village in the remote woods of Northern Rhode Island. The properties in the area are owned by several different groups. Some of it is privately owned, some owned by nearby Fidelity. The rest is owned by the Audubon Society and the Smithfield Land Trust. The area is not open to the public and access is available occasionally when the Smithfield Land Trust leads guided group tours of the property.

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Cellar Hole With Shelves